As the business model for journalism changes with the advent of new technology and more expansive schools of thought, college journalism programs change along with it. Policies implemented to shift, alter or otherwise change the way collegiate student media operates present a path across a legal and ethical minefield for both the students and administrators. Whereas some new policies may border on censorship, others have successfully kept student media afloat in difficult times.
Covering the rousing parties, philanthropic activities and exclusivity of social fraternities and sororities on campus can be tricky ground for college journalists. Bad press can upset well-connected students and stories of exclusive houses can mold cultural misconceptions. However, the Greek community often plays a significant role on campus and is an important part of campus coverage.
With administrators straying away from interfering directly with students, advisers sometimes become pawns, being forced into an ethical quandary.
Whether in the interest of education, risqué humor or shock value, student newspapers have transcended the health reporting boundaries and ventured into writing Sex and the City-type revelations and sexual exploits. As student writers bump up against some readers’ notions of taste and propriety, these columns and special editions have created their share of controversy.
In the cases of the more than 7,100 campus newspapers stolen this past year, the circumstances were clear: Free newspapers were removed from stands in overt acts of theft, amounting to thousands of dollars in stolen property. In other situations, it can be unclear what, if any, crime has been committed.
With gay marriage and the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community being debated on the national level, some school administrators seek to limit such speech in the schools, and student journalists are find it tough to report on the issues.
For decades, high school students have anxiously awaited the arrival of yearbooks —?a day filled with gushing over prom photos or exchanging books to sign personal messages. But Greg Ruiz thought there was a better way to remember his high school memories than with a traditional publication.
Principals have struggled with how to handle their power over student media since the Supreme Court shifted a portion of responsibility for school-sponsored publications to administrators.
Government officials are no strangers to scandals. And —?as some Texas college journalists learned — neither is student government.
More than 30 years later and months after the latest round of legal interpretations, open records advocates, elected officials and journalists are questioning FERPA’s application and wondering just how far from the law’s original intent schools are willing to go to shield information from the public.